Lots going on this final week with the holiday, but I did manage to complete a track...even with a power outage Sunday night.
Part of the concept this week was to include instruments and effects I accumulated in 2019, so we have an acoustic guitar part (vintageparlorguitars.com size-2 parlor) and two electric parts (PureSalem Mendiola, courtesy of Premier Guitar's Mystery Stocking), one of which went through the Balls Effects KWB pedal. Otherwise...this started first as a kind of dub dirge, but got a bit funkier. Other instruments: two drum racks (Cassette 606, Ableton Cyndal kit), Ableton Operator (Funky Organ preset), Ableton Electric (MkI2 Crunchy preset).
Sends: one convolution reverb, one tweaked Echo.
Title from Ernest Rutherford's coinage of "alpha" and "beta" for different kinds of radioactive emissions. (Element 104, the last in our weekly element-related tracks series, was named for him.)
Join us for 2020 over on Weekly Beats!
Lots going on this week, including patching for an upcoming show. But here's a track, built up in response to a vague sense of syncopated rhythm. Drums: Ableton's Brush Rack, Acoustified, 20, Impulse of handclacps. Keys: Ableton's Electric (MkI2 Crunchy), Simpler Grand Piano, and bass.
Title from the symbol for this week's element, Nobelium.
A reactive piece built up from a general sense of drum groove. One realistic-ish drum rack (64-pad rock kit), one 808 (mostly kick, with occasional obvious drum machine snare), hand claps, two channels of Epiphone P-J bass, and three channels of Epiphone Moderne guitar (through Vox Wah). I'd had a line of keyboards I took out. Auto-Filter with drive on one guitar channel, Auto-Pan on 808 and high bass, Drum Buss on the rock kit.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, and a channel of Echo.
Title from the property of this week's element, Einsteinium, which is radioactive enough to damage its crystal structure just by existing.
This week was an exercise in cutting to make something kind of ordinary potentially interesting. I had a chord progression in mind that was fun and satisfying to play, but which sounded...pedestrian. Rather than throw it out, I went for cuts. While I tracked it in a straightforward way, in this rendering, the first half of this piece disrupts the progression by emphasizing off-beats, and the second half restores the cut sections, but removes the parts that are audible in the first part. Two other guitar lines get a similar cutting treatment, without the restoration, and parts of the bassline are cut as well.
Drums: one track of 64-pad rock kit (every seventh beat dropped), and one track of 808 samples. Guitar: three tracks of Res-O-Glas recorded through the Vox Wah, with different sets of low-cut and high-cut Auto-Filter to simulate amp drive. Bass is the usual Epi P-J with EQ-8 low-cut, and a bit of air with a convolution reverb send. Guitars get that send, too...as do drums. There's also a delay send that the drums go to. There's flat full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from the use of this week's element (californium) to start nuclear reactors.
Travel had me starting very late on this one, only doing some initial beats in 6/8 (Ableton 64-pad rock kit) and bass on Friday night, adding a bit of Operator (1st and 3rd partial) late Saturday. Initially I'd thought of adding guitar, but...I found myself enjoying the sparse dub-like quality of this, even though it's not that heavy on the dub delay. It needed something else at the end, so I added three tracks of Simpler with different field recording samples.
Sends: Convolution reverb (with Auto-Filter bass rolloff), Echo (Dem Ducks, with tweaks). Full-chain master on the 2.
Title from a quality of berkelium, this week's element--it emits low-energy electrons, so it's safe to handle...but on the other hand, it decays into the very-radioactive californium, so...if you have the opportunity to handle any, just don't.
This week's track, done in a few quick passes...and with a day-long pause while the laptop was in the shop.
I had four Drum Rack lines (Kit Carbon, two Muttkaste, Altered Kit), three of which were severely filtered, one of which boosted (one of the Muttkaste). There's also Electric and Vibes, two Res-O-Glas (different Auto-Filter settings), and Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8). Putting it together...my sense of the "one" kept shifting, so there's a weird floating feeling to this one. I kept needing to cut parts that got cluttered.
Sends: two echo returns, one convolution reverb.
Title from the crystalline structure of Americium, this week's element.
Early in the week, I had a funky drum beat in my mind, and threw it together with Ableton's 64-pad rock kit. I didn't have a chance to put guitar on it right away, so I temporarily filled the track in with a looped field recording from my back yard. Gradually, keys went on (filtered Analog), and I added bass. Finally, late Sunday, I had a few minutes to put guitar (Res-O-Glas, Vox Wah) on, and then I cut down the field recordings significantly, as well as slowing speed and dropping pitch.
Drums: Drum Buss, vinyl distortion. (I'd got it into my mind that this would add character.)
Bass: EQ-8, with bass rolloff.
Guitar: Auto-Filter high/low pass with drive.
Field recordings: Auto-Filter high/low pass, auto-pan
Sends: convolution reverb, Echo ("A Bit Tipsy" with time changed and noise/wobble reduced). Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from Fermi's name for element 94 (plutonium) when he'd thought he'd discovered it--"hesperium." (He didn't.)
Suddenly, instrumental power pop. This week started with the little legato line you hear in the left channel, and the rest followed along: drums (the Ableton 64-pad rock drum rack, percussion from a maraca sample), three channels of Res-o-Glas guitar (a couple of them through the EH LPB2ube), and Epi P-J bass. A fair amount of auto-filter on guitar, and EQ-8 on bass. Sends: two convolution reverbs. Full-Chain Master on the master channel.
Title from this week's element, Neptunium.
This piece came together from some syncopated drum lines and little compositional direction. I put down some Electric and Operator lines, tracked bass around a few repetitive figures, and guitar (Res-O through Vox Wah) on top...which didn't coalesce until I copied the guitar lines to another channel and reversed all the clips in that channel. Then it kind of came together. Very little inline processing except for M4L Humanizer and Drum Buss on the drums, Auto-Pan on the keys, Auto-Filter with drive on the forwards guitar. Sends: two convolution reverbs, Delay, Echo. Full-Chain master on the master channel. Kind of floaty.
Title from associations from this week's element, uranium. I'm a fan of the work of the late sculptor James L. Acord, who was the only private individual to have earned a license to work with radioactive materials, including uranium (which he initially gathered by leaching it off of mango red Fiestaware). He'd planned a series of sculptures--reliquaries--designed to contain radioactive materials, which he'd wanted to install at the Hanford Reservation, a project he didn't live to complete.
This week's track was about playing with some syncopated rhythms, which then coalesced into something funky. Drums: one Drum Rack with the Crossroads Kit preset, one 808 Status Quo, one with some tabla samples, and one set of handclaps. Operator on the Funky Organ preset. One track of Epiphone P-J bass, and two of Res-O-Glas guitar (one clean with Vox Wah, and one with Reuss RF-01). A bit of Drum Buss and M4L Humanizer on the Crossroads kit, and EQ-8 on the bass.
Sends: one convolution reverb, one Delay, and one Echo. Full-Chain Master on the mixdown.
Title from the way that thorium-treated lenses will darken over time.
While busy weeks are common now, this one was notably busy. But here's a track anyway. I had kind of a dub idea in mind, thinking of space and interplay...which I kind of got away from, but perhaps not unlistenably.
Drums: Ableton's Borella kit, with Drum Buss, little tiny synth noises from the Ableton DrumSynth kit, and hand claps with Impulse. Epi P-J bass, and Epi Moderne guitar (through Vox Wah). Operator for the organ part. I tracked some fretless guitar that I didn't end up using...but the fretless will probably reappear soon.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, one Delay, and one Echo.
Title from the etymology of this week's element, actinium.
Lots going on this week, so this came together quickly Saturday night and Sunday. Started with reverse-gated 606 syncopated line, adding hand claps. I then tracked three different sets of lines with Res-O-Glas guitar (Balls Effects KWB -> Vox Wah -> Ableton Auto-Filter -> Ableton Cabinet), Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8 to roll off lows). Then I went back to add a line of percussion, which sounded wrong, so I bitcrushed it. This one was very intuitive--just tracking little improvised phrases that seemed to work with each other.
Sends: two different room sizes of convolution reverb, with one channel of echo. Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from the inspiration for radium's name. Kinda obvious, but there we have it.
Kind of a mood piece. Much of my musical activity this week was focused on the monthly covers project (Black Sabbath this month), so my work on this one was a little later than usual, and more intuitive and reactive than planned.
Drums: reverse-gated 606 and 808, straight 808, and Ableton Cashon kit. Bit of Ableton Electric piano, and Epi bass, with two tracks of Res-O-Glas guitar (Balls Effects KWB pedal into Vox Wah). Bass got the usual EQ-8 low rolloff, while one channel of guitar got the low-pass and high-pass Auto-filter treatment. Both got Cabinet. Lot of send automation to a channel of Ableton Echo (with LFO band-pass Auto-Filter in front of it), and two different room convolution reverbs for space.
Title from the fact that this week's element, Francium, was the last to be discovered in nature, instead of being produced synthetically.
A more "intuitive" approach on this one: I threw together a few drum beats during the week that had some ambiguity, and then tracked bass (Epi P-J) and guitar (Res-O) Friday and Saturday, not having much of an overall architectural plan, other than cutting parts out of the bass for the start/stop feeling in the beginning. Gradually it came together with Ableton Simpler grand piano as glue (Auto-Filter high- and low-pass with drive to make it grittier). Auto-Filter overdrive on guitars, EQ-8 on bass. Sends: Echo (Analog Triplet Dub) and two convolution reverbs.
This week's element was Polonium, which...is pretty negative as a subject. Apparently mid-20th-century, Firestone produced polonium spark plugs, which seems...like a bad choice.
This week's track started with the two drum patterns (Electro Dub kit and 64-pad rock kit) that together had a slow, off-kilter groove with each other. I didn't get around to tracking until Friday evening (one whole set of Fahey-tuned guitar that I didn't use, fake Mellotron that I didn't use, either). Saturday I did bass and Epiphone Moderne (Reuss RF-01 and Vox Wah, and also a track of non-distorted Moderne with wah). I extracted a track of unintentional sounds from the fuzz channel, and arranged them throughout for some texture; I'd toyed with the thought of building the piece around them, but opted to go for something less outside this time.
Sends: two convolution reverbs (room ambience, weirder room ambience on the fuzz guitar) and one echo (automated send on the one drum). There's a lot of EQ-8 to roll off low frequencies on the bass and on the electro-dub kit. And some M4L Humanizer on the drums. Full-chain master on everything.
Title from one of the earliest uses (fishing sinkers) for this week's element, lead.
Carved out a little time this week for a track. My initial thought was to do something shoegazey, and then I immediately started making this vintage-y funk thing. Apparently my internal aesthetic compass is a gyroscope.
Drum racks of Acoustified 15 and Emperor kit (through Drum Buss), Operator with a triangle wave and a hint of 3rd harmonic, Electric on the MkI2 crunch preset, Epi P-J with bass rolloff, and Epi Moderne through Reuss RF-01 and Vox Wah. Sends are a convolution reverb and Echo on Dub Syndicate preset. Full-Chain Master on the master channel.
Title from the iridescent quality of iridium (which gives it its name).
Another busy week, but this track still came together. I've been listening a lot to John Zorn's The Book Beri'ah, and wanted to do something with a syncopated danceability like many of the pieces there. I put up a Drum Rack (64-pad jazz) through a severe gate (influence of the new Burial there), and then...just responded to it on bass. Then I responded to that with more bass, added hand claps and percussion, and then a layer of baglama-tuned Heit Deluxe guitar. A touch of reverb and a bit of automated delay on the drums/percussion...and here we are.
Title from one of the properties of this week's element, osmium.
This one was difficult to finish--I didn't want to fall into a retread, and some aspects are similar to a lot of other this-tempo guitar/bass/keys/drums things I've done. So...what to do? I started editing stuff out, and this start/stop approach seemed to pull it into having an identity.
64-pad jazz drum rack, 64-pad special kit (both with M4L Humanizer and Drum Buss, two Puremagnetik Rhodes instruments, Epi P-J bass through the Balls KWB (still pulled down bass with EQ-8), two tracks of Res-O-Glas (KWB and not, one with Auto-Filter drive and not), Sends: two Echo and one convolution reverb. Full-chain master on the master.
Title from the difficulty of extracting this week's element lutetium, but also kind of a difficult track to extract, so it fit.
Kind of a chill-out vibe this week. I was hearing some syncopated drumming, so put up a 64-pad jazz drum rack, then some Puremagnetik Rhodes as chords and leads. Saturday night I tracked Epi P-J bass (through the Balls Effects KWB, and with EQ-8 and Cabinet for tone shaping) and Epiphone Moderne (through Vox Wah, both with and without Reuss Effects Repeater Fuzz. Without involved high-pass and low-pass Auto-Filter with drive.). A last pass involved adding some percussion and balancing some chords that weren't quite compatible...and here we are.
Sends: two different Echo plugins (based on vintage presets) and a convolution reverb. Full-Chain Master on the master channel.
Title from the meaning of the name of the village of Ytterby, site of the mine where this week's element (ytterbium) was discovered.
Kind of like last week's, this week's tempo was all over the place before I tracked guitar and bass. Finally it seemed like uptempo dub, so here we are. Percussion is the 64-pad Jazz Drum Rack, 64-pad Dub Techno kit, Impulse of some hand drums I have, and hand claps. Keys are Puremagnetik Mark I Rhodes, Drawbar, and CP-70. Guitars: baglama-tuned Heit Deluxe for clean-ish rhythm, and Epiphone Moderne (Reuss RF-01 Fuzz and Vox Wah). Bass is the usual Epiphone P-J (with EQ8 to roll off lows).
Sends: auto-filter to roll off lows before a convolution reverb (marble foyer), and two Echo channels, one Dub Syndicate with high-pass, and one Analog Triplet with an LFO-bandpass filter in front. Full-chain master on everything, and auto-pan on the keys and percussion.
I submitted this, and then listening back...didn't like the lower mids. Here's a corrected mix (still on Sunday!)
Title from the use of erbium in lasers..
This week's track started much differently--at 117bpm. I had some interesting drum patterns going on, but couldn't find a way into them. Guitar and keyboard lines weren't all that interesting. So I took a radical step on Saturday and cranked the bpm down to 68--ah, now it's a dub track. OK. Then I could finish it.
Instruments: Drum Rack of 64-pad single hit jazz kit samples, Drum Rack of Dub Techno single hits, Impulse of hand claps, Operator with pitch mod (sort of a cuíca effect), Puremagnetik CP-70 ("Lite" preset), Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8 to roll off lows), and Epiphone Moderne (through Balls Effects KWB and Vox Wah) for guitar. At the last minute, I remembered to put Drum Buss on the drums. (Oops.)
Sends: two channels of Echo (Dark Fade and Dub Syndicate presets), and one empty-swimming-pool convolution reverb. Full-chain master on the out.
Title from the use of this week's element, Holmium, an atom of which was used by IBM a couple years back to store one bit of data.
A couple times during the week I played with some different drum patterns, playing them off against each other, finally coming up with the drum theme heard throughout this piece. I also added a few simple passes of percussion, and then embellished a few with more beats.
I'd thought maybe I'd do just two basses against each other, and recorded a lot of clips in E and G that I ended up throwing out. Saturday night I re-tracked bass in A, and then did another pass of fuzz bass through the Balls Effects KWB. I put a few Rhodes lines, and then a pass of clean Epi Moderne that I'd thought of as glue, but ended up using a lot of it.
Sends: one room-sized convolution reverb, and one lightly modulated echo.
Inlines: some auto-pan on percussion and keys. EQ-8 on bass to roll off some lows, and some Cabinet for air. Auto-filter with drive and cabinet on guitar. Drum Buss on drums. Full-chain master on the stereo mix.
Title from the use of this week's element dysprosium in dosimeters.
Back to the funk. This week brought a new pedal (the Balls Effects KWB pedal, a variant of the MXR Distortion +/Ross pedal with switchable diodes and sweepable clipping), so I used that on guitars and bass. This one started as drum tracks (Drum Rack 64-pad Jazz kit), to which I added a bit of a low end with additional Typhoon kick and some percussion). Then I added two Puremagnetik Rhodes pianos, and laid down guitar (modulated wah and stationary wah) and bass (EQ-8 for bass rolloff). Sends: room-sized convolution reverb and an Echo channel.
Title from...a dad joke about the use of gadolinium (element 64) as part of the emergency shut-down procedure of some reactors, including the CANDU. (Sorry.)
Another piece that accumulated organically: I'd started by putting up a few drum racks against each other (64-pad rock kit, bongos, Hilda kit), and then put a few chords and figures of different keyboards (Live's MkI3 Mellow Piano and Puremagnetik's CP-70 pack, on the electronic-only setting). I put down Epiphone P-J bass, and then Res-O-Glas guitar through EHX LPB2ube, one pass through a mild overdrive, and another through more extreme boost.
Inline effects: M4L Humanizer on drums and MkI3, Drum Buss on percussion. EQ-8 for bass rolloff on bass, various combinations of Auto-Filter (for drive and to roll off weird direct-sounding harmonics from the Alumitones) and Cabinet on guitar. Sends: Convolution reverb (studio room impulse) and Auto-Filter with LFO into Echo on Tweezy Tape preset. Various auto-pan, and full-chain master on the stereo mix.
Title from one method of growing symmetric crystals of samarium, this week's element.
Most of my available evenings this past week involved working on a house-style Tom Waits cover for a tribute project, so I didn't start doing anything with this until Thursday and late Friday evenings. Mark Hollis's passing fresh in my mind, I thought I'd try something kind of organic and sparse, though inevitably this one got more dense over time.
I put up a simple beat in Ableton's 64-pad drum rack and did some light fingerpicking on the Fahey-tuned Univox hollowbody, and later did a pass on bass. I added drum variations, and then put down a few passes of Res-o-Glas guitar through a tremolo pedal, and put one channel of more chordal playing through the cistern convolution reverb--with no direct signal.
Toward the end of mixing, I thought I'd use Auto-Filter for distortion on one of the guitar lines, but dropped it on bass by mistake. That actually sounded pretty good, so I added an effect rack on bass with two parallel chains: one with EQ8 for sub-100Hz rolloff, and one with the auto-filter distortion on the high end.
Sends: two convolution reverbs (cistern and room) with auto-filter low-end rolloff in front, and one Echo on guitars. No dub-style automation on this one.
Title comes from one of the properties of the rare element Promethium.